Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 43: East Jerusalem

For those of you wondering, this is my apartment. Notice, if you will, the little dotted line to the left of my apartment that runs along Beitar street, reading 1949 Armistice Agreement Line. That's right, folks - I live over the Green Line.

Let me back up a few steps to tell the whole story. Today is the second day of Rosh Hashana, and Miriam and Sarah and I decided to celebrate by hosting a lunch in our apartment. We invited some of our friends - a few Brandeis people, Sara Gunning (a representative of Team Chicago), Jessica Simon (another Pardes girl) and Miriam's friend Ben from life in general. It was a really lovely meal - we had way too much food, some excellent rugelach from the Marzipan bakery, and a few miscellaneous Israeli "juices."

We started talking about a variety of things - people we knew from school, the weather (it rained today!), etc. At one point, and I'm not sure how this came up, Sarah made a comment about a weird section in our lease that declares that as far as we know, no one owned this land before 1968:
1. The Tenant declares that he knows that on the 20th day of August, 1968 no tenant was entitled to possession of the apartment and/or that the apartment was duly vacated after that date by any tenant who may have been entitled to possession thereof and has since not been let for key money and/or that the construction of the apartment building was completed after August 20th, 1968 and the apartment was first let subsequent to that date (without payment of any key money). The Tenant further declares that he has not paid the Lessor or any other person any key money or other payment for the consent of the Lessor or such other person to let him the apartment, other than as set out in this Agreement, and he agrees that the provisions of the Tenants' Protection Law (Consolidated Version), 5732-1972, or any subsequent or future Tenants' Protection Legislation, will not apply to his tenancy of the apartment under this Agreement nor to any extension thereof.

I didn't think much of it at the time that I signed it - I just assumed it was a weird Israeli thing, and moved right past it. Turns out, the reason I'm vowing that no one ever owned this apartment is because they don't want me to refuse to move out at the end of the year by declaring that this land is ancestrally my home. So then I looked it up on a map, because I was curious, and also a little concerned that I had moved into occupied territory. Apparently every single time I leave my apartment, I am crossing the Green Line.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this - first of all, it's entirely unclear to me based on the map whether the little pocket of land I live in is on the Israel or the Jordan side of the Green Line - I'm hoping for Israel because it's a lot less morally complicated for me that way, but there's also a high potential for Jordan. Unfortunately, the map isn't very clear (and this is obviously an area where we'd like as much uncertainty as possible). According to wikipedia, Talpiot (my neighborhood [the picture in that wikipedia article, by the way, is the mall directly across the street from Pardes]) has always belonged to Israel, though for a while it was surrounded by Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem. Other articles talk about the area as a "no man's land" that was created to place a barrier between the Israeli and Jordanian armies. Either way, it's clear that as of the Six Day War, this territory has belonged to Israel.

If nothing else, it's led to all sorts of entertaining statements in my apartment such as "remember that time we lived in Palestine?" or "remember that time we needed passports to get to school every day?" My personal favorite is "remember that time we talked about whether we would accept invitations to eat at the houses of our teachers who lived in settlements, and then realized that we lived in a settlement ourselves?" In some ways, where we live is obviously not a settlement - we didn't move here with the intention of reclaiming land for Israel. And yet, I have a sense that that argument doesn't matter - that the intention isn't enough to make it okay. So this is the current piece of news I'm absorbing and dealing with. It's certainly something to wrap my head around.

Rosh Hashana here in Jerusalem was beautiful - I had some excellent meals with people throughout the holiday, and some good prayer experiences. I'm looking forward to the year when I've lived in the same place for two years in a row, and don't have to go anywhere new for the holidays. It's always a little unsettling, and there's no way to guarantee a good experience. Rosh Hashana is a good practice run for Yom Kippur, though, because now I know that if I go to services at Kol Haneshama, the entire thing will be in Hebrew and I'll have to sit on a plastic chair.

We have class tomorrow morning but not tomorrow afternoon, because of the Fast of Gedalia (google it, it's not that interesting), and then on Tuesday we're back to a normal schedule for three days, and then I have a four day weekend (Friday and Saturday for Shabbat, Sunday and Monday for Yom Kippur). We have class next Tuesday but it's not a normal day, and then I have a vacation until the 11th of October. I'm definitely planning to do some traveling during that week, but I'm not sure where I'll be going yet - probably places in the country like Haifa, and maybe Tsfat. I'm hoping eventually to travel to Petra, and possibly Sinai, but those are both big trips with a lot of complicating factors, so I'm saving them until I feel a little more comfortable outside of Jerusalem.

1 comment:

  1. 1) love the tag.
    2) it came up originally because avi bass noticed it on google maps when he looked up directions to our apartment.


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